Foot lesions are highly prevalent in captive flamingos (Phoenicopterus spp.); however, the etiology of these lesions remains mainly speculative. The objectives of this study were to identify climatic factors (latitude, temperature, and housing) and surface factors influencing the risk of four different types of foot lesions (hyperkeratosis, nodular lesions, papillomatous growths, and fissures) in captive flamingos. The study was based on photos of 445 pairs of flamingo foot soles. Data originating from 337 birds in 10 different zoos were included. The odds of birds having hyperkeratosis, papillomatous growths, and fissures were higher for flamingos living north of the 53rd degree of latitude, for flamingos exposed to a mean temperature of 158C or less during the previous 4 wk, and for birds housed in indoor exhibits for at least 90% of the time during the previous 4 wk (compared to flamingos housed outdoor for at least 90% of the time in the same time period). Concrete-type floors increased the odds of flamingos having hyperkeratosis and fissures. Certain substrates increased the odds of one type of lesion while decreasing the odds of having other lesion types. In conclusion, both climate and substrate appear to affect the odds of developing different types of foot lesions.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2012, Vol 43, Issue 4, p. 744-749